Supreme Court will make historic Clean Water Act ruling

March 4, 2019 by  
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This Fall, the Supreme Court will make a monumental decision on whether the Clean Water Act prohibits groundwater pollution. The upcoming case is in response to a 2018 verdict in Hawaii, which ruled that a wastewater facility needed a Clean Water Act permit to inject treated wastewater into ground wells. The ruling will have national implications about what constitutes direct water pollution with two possible and controversial outcomes: either creating a massive loophole for major polluters or drastically expanding the Clean Water Act to include infinite sources of non-direct pollution. “This is the most significant environmental law case in the last few year,” former Head of the Justice Department’s Environment Division, John Cruden, told E&E News . First, what is groundwater? According to the U.S. Geological Survey , ground water is water that is beneath land surface. It is water that fills pores and fractures in sand, soil and rocks. Groundwater supplies 40 percent of water used by the public and 39 percent of water used in U.S. agriculture. It also feeds into bodies of water, such as lakes, rivers and the ocean. Related: Compensation for conservation: water markets are economists’ answer to scarcity What is the Clean Water Act? Since 1972, the Clean Water Act has been the main federal law governing the health of the country’s waterways. The Clean Water Act explicitly covers all navigable bodies of water. This definition has been up to judicial interpretation, but widely includes ocean, rivers, lakes, streams and wetlands, arguably including bodies of water that fill after heavy rains. The Clean Water Act channels federal funding to state and Tribal governments for water protection and remediation projects. Direct polluters are also required by the Act to obtain permits for any pollution discharged into bodies of water. The pollution case in Hawaii Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility in Maui was in violation of the Clean Water Act and needed a permit for its ongoing practice of injecting 3 to 5 million gallons of treated wastewater into the ground every day. In 2011, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study used tracer dye to prove that treated sewage was seeping out into coastal waters near Kahekili Beach. In 2012, a coalition of environmental advocacy organizations sued the treatment facility in order to protect nearshore coral reef. In 2018, the Court determined that because of its traceability, this case was considered direct pollution and therefore required a Clean Water Act permit. “If the Supreme Court reverses the lower courts’ decisions, chemical plants, concentrated animal feeding operations, oil refineries, and other industrial facilities would effectively have free rein to discharge pollutants indirectly into the nation’s waterways without Clean Water Act permits,” Earth Justice said in a statement reported in USA Today . However, the County of Maui argues that this is their most environmentally friendly option given limited resources and that they would need more time and funding to explore alternate methods of disposing of wastewater, such as offshore facilities.The County believes such issues should be determined at a local level, where judges understand the constraints. “We all want unpolluted waters, healthy coral and fish. But we want workable solutions, not onerous and costly government red tape. This is a home-rule issue that should be addressed here, not by far-off regulators imposing rules that don’t properly address our real world problems,” Maui County spokesperson Brian Perry said to the Lahaina News . Have other courts ruled on groundwater pollution? This is not the first time a local court has had to make a decision on indirect versus direct groundwater pollution and the Clean Water Act. In fact, USA today reports that in 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in South Carolina ruled that an oil spill from a burst pipeline was in violation of the Clean Water Act because the oil seeped through groundwater and entered bodies of water such as the Savannah River. However, in 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Kentucky ruled that pollutants from a coal ash pond that entered groundwater was not in violation of the Clean Water Act because groundwater does not fall under “navigable waters”. The Supreme Court has important decisions to make both about state versus federal jurisdiction and also about the possibilities of discharging pollution into groundwater. If the Supreme Court rules against the local decision, environmentalists believe this would give polluters free reign to contaminate the country’s important water sources. If it upholds the local decision, municipalities worry they will be inundated with costly changes to infrastructure as well as open targets for lawsuits for everything from road runoff to leaky water fountains. The Supreme Court is expected to hear the County of Maui, Hawaii versus Hawaii Wildlife Fund in October or November, 2019. Via The Lahaina News Image via Shutterstock

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Supreme Court will make historic Clean Water Act ruling

Taj Mahal will be restored to original glory thanks to environmental and cultural push

July 26, 2018 by  
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The Taj Mahal, India’s world-famous monument to love, is sparking a powerful environmental and national heritage movement due to the extreme pollution turning the iconic white building yellow and green. The building’s location in Agra – which ranks eighth on the World Health Organization ‘s (WHO) list of most polluted cities – has proven less than ideal when it comes to staying pollution-free. Now, India’s Supreme Court is pushing for better pollution protections in order to preserve the mausoleum’s majesty. WHO reported that, as of 2016, “92% of the world’s population lives in places where air quality levels exceed WHO’s Ambient Air Quality guidelines.” It should come as no surprise, then, that the Taj Mahal’s striking white marble is being dyed yellow and green. The nearby Yamuna River also has trash covering its banks, and smog from tanneries and factories further pollutes the surrounding air. Outcries against this environmental and cultural desecration of the beloved mausoleum have prompted India’s government to take swift action. The country’s Supreme Court is leading the charge, with a proposal to ban all plastics, as well as pollution-emitting factories and construction zones, around the building. Related: Uranium-contaminated groundwater found throughout India In addition, the court justices are advocating for a switch to electric and hydrogen vehicles for the area’s residents, as well as a restoration of green cover within the Taj Mahal’s grounds. Those who wish to visit the structure in its most authentic form need not worry, as “replacing present day lawns with tree cover as it existed originally will increase the biomass,” according to a draft document of the plan. In the past “there have been various studies, various plans, but they have not been implemented in right earnest in a coordinated manner,” explained Divay Gupta of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). This time, though, the justices have said that authorities should either restore the structure or tear it down – and we sincerely hope they choose the former. +WHO +INTACH Via Reuters Images via Shutterstock

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Taj Mahal will be restored to original glory thanks to environmental and cultural push

What Supreme Court shakeup means for climate change

February 18, 2016 by  
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The Clean Power Plan hangs in the balance following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

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What Supreme Court shakeup means for climate change

What the Supreme Court shakeup means for climate change

February 18, 2016 by  
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The Clean Power Plan hangs in the balance following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

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What the Supreme Court shakeup means for climate change

British Airways readies for takeoff on aviation emissions cuts

February 18, 2016 by  
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One jumbo-jet sized hole in the Paris Climate Agreement, aviation industry emissions, is the subject of a new corporate target from an industry sustainability laggard.

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British Airways readies for takeoff on aviation emissions cuts

Why the fate of our climate could rest on Justice Scalia’s replacement

February 16, 2016 by  
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Since Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden death last weekend, there’s been a glut of articles analyzing what his absence means for the balance of power in the US Supreme Court. One writer taking a bold stance is Maddie Stone, who asserts in a piece for Gizmodo that “Scalia’s death may have saved the planet” from the looming catastrophe of climate change . Of course matters aren’t entirely that simple; we don’t yet know who will be nominated to replace Scalia, or if Congressional Republicans will even allow a new nominee to be appointed. Read the rest of Why the fate of our climate could rest on Justice Scalia’s replacement

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Why the fate of our climate could rest on Justice Scalia’s replacement

Seattle design covers ugly highway with an elevated park and affordable housing

February 16, 2016 by  
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Seattle design covers ugly highway with an elevated park and affordable housing

Supreme Court halts Obama’s limits on power plant emissions

June 30, 2015 by  
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A lot of people are thrilled with the Supreme Court after the landmark decision to support gay marriage rights, but President Barack Obama might have mixed feelings about the justices for other reasons. In another, quieter decision handed down on June 29, the Supreme Court blocked Obama’s plan to limit emissions of mercury and other toxic pollutants from coal-fired power plants. This decision will make it more difficult for the Environmental Protection Agency to meet its goal to cut power plant emissions 30 percent by 2030. Read the rest of Supreme Court halts Obama’s limits on power plant emissions Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: carbon emissions , environmental protection agency , epa , epa regulations , power plant emissions , president barack obama , supreme court , supreme court blocks carbon emissions limits , supreme court blocks clean air act , supreme court blocks epa

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New Contraceptive Implant Could Give Women Wireless Control Over Their Own Fertility

July 30, 2014 by  
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While corporations like Hobby Lobby have been battling to take away women’s choices when it comes to contraception, the Gates Foundation and MicroCHIPS Inc. strive to give women full control over their own reproduction. MicroCHIPS is in the process of developing a contraceptive implant that can be controlled wirelessly and, unlike contraceptive implants like IUD’s, would only need to be replaced every 16 years or so. Even better, the implant can be controlled by the wearer, allowing women, and not their employers, to determine when and how they decide to use their birth control. Read the rest of New Contraceptive Implant Could Give Women Wireless Control Over Their Own Fertility Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: contraception , contraception technology , contraceptive health care , contraceptive implant , Gates Foundation contraception , Gates Foundation contraceptive implant , health care , Hobby Lobby , Hobby Lobby contraception , Hobby Lobby contraceptive implant , Hobby Lobby reproduction , Hobby Lobby Supreme Court , hormone implant , medication implant , MicroCHIPS contraception , MicroCHIPS contraceptive implant , remote control contraception , wireless control contraception

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New Contraceptive Implant Could Give Women Wireless Control Over Their Own Fertility

Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to EPA’s Regulation of Power Plant Emissions

October 16, 2013 by  
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Photo via Shutterstock The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge that could threaten the Obama administration’s progress towards limiting emissions from some of the nation’s largest polluters. While Obama proposed historic legislation last month that would require new power plants to drastically reduce their emissions , the legal challenge seeks to overturn its less-stringent 2011 predecessor—a law which requires power plants to apply for permits to release greenhouse gases . Read the rest of Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to EPA’s Regulation of Power Plant Emissions Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: barack obama , carbon pollution , clean air act , coal plants , environmental protection agency , epa , greenhouse gases , permit emissions , petition , pollutants , president obama , supreme court        

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